O Sacred Head, Now Wounded   11 comments

Christ Carrying the Cross, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

Hymn Source = The New Psalms and Hymns (1901), of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1861-1983), the former “Southern Presbyterian Church,” born as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (1861-1865)

Several English translations and composite versions of this hymn exist in denominational hymnals.  The original text was in Latin.  Some traditions attribute authorship to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153).  The German translation (1656) is the work of the Lutheran hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).  This English rendering (1830) is the product of the mind of the Reverend James W. Alexander (1804-1859), a Presbyterian minister who served churches in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York.

The cross was supposed to carry great shame, at least in the minds of the Roman authorities who used it to make examples of selected people.  May we never assign this sacred symbol any shame.–KRT


1.  O sacred Head, now wounded,

With grief and shame weighed down;

Now scornfully surrounded

With thorns, Thine only crown.

O sacred Head, what glory,

What bliss till now was Thine!

Yet, though despised and gory,

I joy to call Thee mine.

2.  O noblest brow and dearest,

In other days the world

All feared when Thou appearedst;

What shame on Thee is hurled!

How art Thou pale with anguish,

With sore abuse and scorn;

How does that visage languish

Which once was bright ans morn!

3.  What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered

Was all for sinners’ gain:

Mine, mine was the transgression,

But Thine the deadly pain.

Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!

‘Tis I deserve Thy place;

Look on me with Thy favor,

Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

4.  What language shall I borrow

To thank Thee, dearest Friend,

For this Thy dying sorrow,

Thy pity without end?

O make me Thine for ever;

And should I fainting be,

Lord, let me never, never

Outlive my love to Thee.

5.  Be near when I am dying,

O show Thy cross to me;

And for my succor flying

Come, Lord, to set me free:

These eyes, new faith receiving,

From Jesus shall not move;

For he who dies believing,

Dies safely, through Thy love.


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